New Year, New ‘Do: Sarah Iyere

 

Don’t they say blonds have more fun?

Why did I do it? Why did I color my hair?

Well…isn’t it because blonds have more fun? 😉

Here’s the story: I have always wanted to color my hair. I’ve wanted Tyra Banks Red or Beyoncé Blond since I was nine or ten actually, but I knew if I colored my hair that way, my mother would not be the happiest parent in the neighborhood.

SO, I waited until college, and I sought out the open-minded opinions of my peers, to just to gauge how such a dramatic new look would be met, and the consensus was simply: DON’T DO IT.

Now, imagine my reaction. “Whoa. Okay, well, I know you have my best interest at heart, so wait, why? Why not try something new when I am young and I can? Isn’t it just hair? If it ends up looking bad, can’t I always wear extensions, or braids, or anything to cover it up until it grows back?”

“Well now Sarah, I’m just concerned for the health of your hair.”

“You seem a little too light for that. Unless you’re trying to look White.”

“That won’t be professional.”

“Black people…they’re not blond naturally.”

Natural Blond Dark Skinned Islander

(Which, as you can see from the picture, is false. Source: http://blackgirllonghair.com/2012/05/black-people-with-naturally-blonde-hair/)

And so on and so forth. Now, I know people are just really concerned that I don’t end up looking like NeNe Leakes but I would like my friends and family to give me some credit. Yes, I want to get a job; yes, I want to make sure my hair is healthy; and yes, I don’t want to look like a freak that doesn’t own a mirror.

No, I’m not trying to look “white.” I want a change of pace, something different than what I’ve done before. I might even color my hair blue one of these days. I also want to rock a fade, and grow out an Angela Davis-esque Afro, and I do not believe I am trying to conform to any ulterior standard of beauty, European or otherwise. I embrace my curls in addition to the diversity of styles that I, as an African-American woman, can wear that so many other people are not privileged to.

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No, I don’t hate myself and my natural texture. Enjoying my hair and changing the manner I wear it is a form of self-expression, to be utilized like an accessory. It’s a different STYLE. That is what the meaning of style is. Different looks, correct? Other people with different hair types that are straighter curl their hair, and it’s not looked on as self-hatred or a rejection of the way the hair grows out of their scalp.

I have a choice in how I style myself, and I defend the authenticity of my choice. Yes, there are external factors in media and culture influencing the perceptions of beauty in the world. I see them, and in my acknowledgement of them I empower myself to choose the way I wear my hair independent of that. I make a conscious effort in understanding if my choice is because of what I have perceived or if I have a genuine desire to see myself with blond tints of color in my mane.

In spite of the opposition, the push for me to change it up became something I couldn’t ignore. So I looked to the one person who I knew would have my back when it came to being bold in beauty.

My champion, my hairdresser, my sister.

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We first tried temporary color treatments out the wazoo, but, they just didn’t give me the depth of color that I wanted. I decided to take the leap, fully and enthusiastically supported by her. We decided on a color and cut that would easily transition to an interview style. I met with a trained professional who recommended that with my curl type, intense moisturizing is going to have to be a daily commitment with permanent color (and without it), so I allocated the time in my schedule to do that. And I seriously have always had tons of mirrors in my dorm room, so seeing me before I leave definitely wouldn’t be a problem.

Finally, logistics aside, we took the steps, and the results are this:

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And I love it! I am so grateful that I have such a talented sister, willing and able to hook me up like that. Hair’s relevance, power, and significance are not to be under-acknowledged. It is also not to be overvalued or for its value to be determined by individuals other than oneself, people both within and outside my community and support system. The relationship I have with my hair gets better the more I am able to value it for myself, for its variety, and its health, and not by how pleasing it is to others or whether it meets the requirements of an exclusive movement.

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More and more I am able to see my hair as a medium of expressing who I am within. I count myself blessed for the honor of sharing this experience with my sister and her skillful hands. She is helping to heal years of insecurity in my exterior that mirrored the insecurity for what is inside. And I count myself blessed for the opportunity to not be bound by something that at the end of the day can, and will, always grow back.

…unless it doesn’t…because Alopecia is real. And in that case, thank God for ProtaHair.

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